Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Anger is a terrible thing. Even justifiable anger. It's a emotion that will gnaw at your insides and pretty much ruin your life. Anger at an injustice. Anger at the way you were raised. Anger at the actions of others. It doesn't matter what the cause is, the end result will always be the same, and it won't do you any good.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is an angry film, but thankfully it's also a hopeful one. And it's great too.

9 months after the rape and murder of her daughter, a woman grows totally frustrated with the inaction by the town police and decides to shame them into action by asking questions on billboards outside the town. Her plans do not go down well either with her family, the people of the town or the police.

I loved this. It's great when you see a film in the first week of January and you just know that it will be in your top 10 at the end of the year. It's not the comedy that trailers make it out to be at all. Far from it. It's a dark, thoughtful film with blobs of humour scattered throughout. Mostly the type of dark humour that will make you laugh nervously. It's also a deeply humane film about how complicated people can be. It's about the gray areas that exist in people's lives. How people who do and say pretty despicable things are still redeemable. It's a film that's optimistic about people. It mightn't seem so initially but it breaks through eventually. It's also an exceedingly well written and acted film. This is writer/director Martin McDonagh's 3rd film and it's probably his best. It's far better than Seven Psychopaths anyway and avoids the shock value that film strived for. It's deep, profound, moving look at grief and the shockwaves that come in the wake of grief, that feels totally authentic. It's a story that feels propelled by the actions of it's characters. 

Frances McDormand is an amazing actor with a brilliantly expressive face. Here as Mildred she'll break your heart, stress you out, give you hope and make you snort laughing when she decides to do some equal opportunity crotch kickin'. Guilt and stress is etched on her face and with one roar of utter frustration she steals the entire film. She's a complex character too. It's her way or the highway and if people get hurt on her road to justice, so be it. It's easily her best role of the century so far, definitely since Almost Famous in 2000.

Sam Rockwell is fantastic too, playing a cop that's the embodiment of some of the problems facing American society, wait no actually just society today. An immature, sexist, racist, homophobic thug with a very short fuse and a drinking problem. He's a character you'll love to hate......and yet somehow Rockwell makes him compelling. Woody Harrelson rounds out the main cast as a decent man struggling with what life is throwing at him. His voiceover scenes are the ones that give the film a lot of its heart. He's a man with a tough exterior but a wounded and frustrated interior. The supporting cast is just as good. Zeljko Ivanic is hilarious as a perpetually angry cop. Peter Dinklage as a little man with a big heart. Caleb Landry Jones is becoming a go to guy for young men with a country twang and Ireland's own Kerry Condon is fun in a couple of small scenes. 

This is a film that might frustrate some people but as with a lot of stories, it's about the journey and not the destination. Director Martin McDonagh has a fine feel for the complexities of people and life. It's a bit of an oddity. A raw, upsetting film that will make you burst out laughing in places. Actually you'll feel the full gamut of emotions throughout this. It's really worth going to see. Out in cinemas Friday.

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